Gov. Jeb Bush acknowledges the inevitability of hurricanes continuing to hit the state, but he says emergency planners have learned a lot since last summer’s quartet of deadly storms. With Dennis now taking aim at the Panhandle, the roads of north Florida are busy.
A steady stream of cars has been heading east on I-10 all day long. Rest areas are busy.
John Thompson said, "I'm leaving from Mary Ester close to Fort Walton. I'm going to Ocala." Thompson added, "I went there last time, ah, from Ivan."
Nearly everyone is fleeing the storm. People we talked to were headed to diverse places: Tifton, Georgia, Lakeland, St. Petersburg. For most of these folks, the scene is just all too familiar.
Jeff Thompson is fleeing Panama City. He added when asked, "So what made you decide to leave?" "The tornadoes from Ivan, mainly. Last year when they were that close to us, all around us and so unpredictable, I thought no way, not this time.”
The first showers hit the Panhandle just after 1 p.m. Then a calm as trucks of ice, generators and food staged for a trip to Pensacola.
At the state Emergency Operations Center, there was a sense of inevitability.
"Here we go again," said Gov. Bush.
But Jeb Bush says the staff is not fatigued and has learned lessons from last year.
"People that, in northwest Florida particularly where the storm likely will hit, should know that their fellow Floridians will be at their side to help in their relief effort," said Bush.
Five hundred National Guardsmen will be over-nighting in Tallahassee, then will move into the storm area after the weather clears.